It's a funny feeling, having your head shoved into a waste paper basket with a miniature rear vision mirror and long sponges wedged up against the sides to ensure a complete lack of motion.
A decade ago, I was allowed to bring in a CD that was magically piped into the tube, but today I'm grateful that the radiographer speaks English and has offered me some ancient cheeseburger-shaped headphones to muffle the noise. "Cuckoo!" he says cheerfully, more than once, tapping my arm. "You can keep your eyes open but will see only a white wall. Better to keep them closed and think of nicer things," he trills, eyes glinting merrily. "Cuckoo!"
My response was the usual 'thumbs up' and a wink before the bed glided slowly into the MRI cavity. "Keep your arms still now," he called as he walked towards the office. "Cuckoo!"
The knocking, buzzing, whirring and pulsing sounds seemed a lot louder than ten years ago. Perhaps having Tom Petty singing of how he learned to fly without any wings made it less noticeable back then. Whilst loud, being a recent survivor of a migraine on a long haul flight meant that today's closed-in cacophony didn't seem any worse than the endless gullet humming of aeroplane engines. This was a mere forty five minutes with a pause at some indeterminate time for Mr Cuckoo to inject my arm with some contrast solution and return to making more percussive x-ray racket.
Despite having my eyes squeezed shut, an enclosed cranium and rapidly-numbing hands that I'd foolishly interlaced together, my mind did start wandering.
Reminders to not forget to make a dental appointment for Sapphire; buy some minced garlic and ginger from the Asian Spices shop in Servette; borrow a Frank Zappa DVD for research purposes; ask ex-travel agent friend G for her Spanish recommendations, finish up two overdue articles; and check with Vic Roads: did they ever send me my drivers' licence after my wallet was stolen a year ago?
The recent, lingering bout of flu meant that my nose started to twitch. Normally a loud and proud honker, I realised that the second option - sniffing it juicily back from whence it came - was not available as it would cause some head movement. The third option was not so much chosen as inevitable: lie there uselessly as snot dribbled ever-so-slowly out of my right nostril and down towards my ear.....
My thoughts turned from minor errands to bigger issues. Recent disappointments. Lies told by someone willing to let an innocent person take the blame, and my lack of influence to make the situation a fair one. Decisions to carry on regardless, consciences utterly clear. How, at forty four, people's behaviour still managed to shock and confuse me.
Then, of course, the here and now butted in as a cough started to tickle my chest. Instead of actively ignoring the wet creeping sensation of phlegm edging towards my ear hole, I actively meditated on it. Could this snail trail be a metaphor representing the build up of migraines over the past year or so? A sluggish sojourn back to boringly detailed food diaries, lost days and blurred vision? A glacial yet inevitable journey towards this day, an MRI scan, to see if the tumour had returned?
Sapphire's face immediately popped into view, as did Love Chunks' and Milly's. Three warm beings equalling my home. A wheeze emanating from my throat was discernible between magneto-zappings. The cough was impatient: it wanted air time and to get out of my prone body NOW. I swallowed a few times, taking care not to wiggle anything above my lower lip. Somehow this caused the moving mucus to pause at my temple.
Excellent timing, as the piercing clamour orchestrated by Mr Cuckoo had also ended.
"You are very good at keeping still, very good. Cuckoo!" he laughed, removing the pillow from under my knees, as I stretched and surreptitiously wiped the snot away with my arm.
"Did you see anything on the scans," I asked, sitting up and shaking some feeling back into my fingers.
"Oh no no, don't go there," he said, waggling his finger at me in mock dismay. "I am only the technician today. You will find out in two days."
A few minutes later with my scarf, boot, coats, watch, rings and bangles back on, I strolled towards the Number 14 tram in the fog. What did I want the result to be? A returned tumour to blame the recent symptoms on, or the relief of no tumour but also no reason?
A car horn beeped at me, disturbing my reverie. I had every right to cross here on the yellow lines..... oh, it was my favourite Parc de Trembley gardener, lover of tennis and all things Federer. "Federer lost but the Australian open was good as ever," he called out to me.
"Oui!" I yelled in return. "Federer est nombre un pour moi!" Morning shift long over, he roared off into the mist. It felt good that he recognised me in a different suburb wearing my 'nice' clothes as opposed to my XXXL Man-sized coat and without Milly by my side.
An hour later, I walked into the apartment with two bags of fragrant spices, some interesting chocolate biscuits to share with friends and a dog eager to go to the park and sniff for squirrels. The result didn't matter.